Syed Rahman of financial crime specialists Rahman Ravelli considers the report and emphasises the importance of fraud prevention.
A think tank has stated that fraud in the UK has reached epidemic levels and needs to be regarded as a national security issue.
The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) says in a report that levels of credit card fraud, identity fraud and cyber-fraud makes it the most common crime, costing up to £190 billion a year. RUSI wants UK intelligence agencies to play a bigger role in tackling fraud. It also wants more resources for police investigating fraud and closer cooperation between the authorities and the private sector.
The RUSI states that the extent of fraud in the private sector has harmed the UK’s reputation as a place to do business. It also says that the amounts the government has lost to fraudulent claims is a "heist" on public funds that undermines faith and trust.
The Crime Survey for England and Wales found 3.7 million reported incidents in 2019-20 of members of the public being targeted by credit card, identity and cyber-fraud. Fraud has been estimated to cost UK business around £130 billion a year, while annual public sector fraud is believed to total over £20 billion.
RUSI’s report also highlights fraud’s links to organised crime and terrorist funding. It argues that the coronavirus pandemic and the increasing digitilisation of business have provided added opportunities for those looking to commit fraud.
Many of the issues raised by RUSI are ones that have been known for some time – with all of us repeatedly being warned to be on guard against fraud. Yet there is little doubt that the pandemic is a recent and significant factor when it comes to fraud; not least in relation to government Covid-19 loan applications.
While it could be argued that the investigating of fraud is under-resourced, those in business have to ensure that they have robust procedures in place to both prevent it and identify it. The right preventative measures can go a long way to ensuring any organisation does not end up in the fraud statistics.